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Real Faith and Irrelevant Pretty Notions

原作者: Jared Buss

Jesus raises Jairus's daughter.

When things go wrong, either in our personal lives or in the world around us, religion can start to seem irrelevant. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that it starts to feel like a useless hope. It feels like baggage that we no longer have a reason to carry around. Religious teachings can start to seem like meaningless ideals, and religious practices can feel futile. We might look at the messes in our lives and say, “My ideals haven’t stopped this from happening.” Or we might see tragedy and chaos on the news and say, “How is going to church going to change this?”

But all of this thinking is backwards. Religion isn’t a luxury item. It isn’t something that we ornament our lives with to testify that life is going great. It isn’t a beautiful thing that we do because we’re beautiful people. If religion is what it’s meant to be, then it only becomes more relevant the more things fall apart.

The clearest proof of this is the Lord’s well-known statement: “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17). People are so easily carried away by the idea that religion is for righteous people, but the Lord says “not so.” And good thing too—because where are these righteous people anyway? He came here for the sinners. He came to earth for the people who have created messes in their lives—not to congratulate them, but to help them. To save them.

This is why there are so many hard teachings in the Word. The Lord tells us how to fight spiritual battles—how to shun the evils that we unearth within ourselves. If we expect religion to be a beautiful adornment for beautiful people, these teachings are jarring. They’re a bit like a first aid course. Who wants to spend time thinking about injuries? If life was just a Saturday afternoon in an armchair, there would be no need to think about such things. It’s when something goes wrong that the value of first aid training hits home. Likewise, if we believe that nothing much is wrong with anything or anybody, it’s hard to understand why the Lord has so much to say about repentance. But if evil is real, it all makes sense. That bad stuff is what He’s trying to save us from. It’s why He tells us so many times that we need Him—we need His power. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:30, 31).

None of this means that we’re supposed to have a negative outlook on life. The Word isn’t there simply to teach us that hard times are real and that we need to be saved. The message of the Word is that the Lord can give us joy in spite of the hard stuff—in spite of the evil—if we let Him. He says: “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:22). That’s not just some high-flying ideal. It’s a lot more powerful than the notion that life should be pretty. If the Lord is being “real” when He talks about the gritty and painful things—about loneliness and loss—then maybe He’s also being “real” when He promises that He can comfort us.

Much of the world seems to believe that religion is increasingly irrelevant. The world seems to say that religion hasn’t cured us of anything, so it’s a dead weight that the human race can dispense with. But this is backwards. The teachings of the Word are relevant because the world needs healing. This healing isn’t just something we can seek out for ourselves—it’s something we can share, if we have the courage. When we do this, we aren’t sharing a happy little ideal. We shouldn’t point to religion as something that’s merely “interesting.” We’re talking about the most real things in life—about struggle and sorrow, and joy that will transcend them.

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Isaiah第40章

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1 Comfort ye, Comfort ye my people, saith your God.

2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins.

3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:

7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.

8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counseller hath taught him?

14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?

15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.

16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.

17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?

19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.

20 He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.

21 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.

24 Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble.

25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.

26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?

28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.